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The New Guy in Moon Base Twelve


consideration, was perhaps the most obvious. There was to be no meat on the
moon, excluding cannibalism, of course. The settlers would be growing their
own food hydroponically and developing additional nutrients chemically.
The commission decided not to tempt fate by letting the President in on these
requirements right away; in fact they managed to keep it all secret for just
long enough to staff and propel the original crew of twenty six souls into
space. Among them were fifteen men and eleven women, and together they
were commissioned to constructed exactly two moon bases within three
hundred yards of one another. The commission arranged for everything and
everyone to get shipped off all at once. They didn't have a lot of confidence in
the staying power of this particular program. They had the feeling, which was
later borne out to be prophetic, that the President would lose quickly interest
and drop all funding altogether. The commission did not want to leave the
bases either half-staffed or half-equipped, and so it was that in one single
week, more than twenty launches carrying men, women, tools and equipment
blasted off, along with an assortment of potentially useful odds and ends that
seemed to have randomly occurred to one commission member or another.
Thus there were volleyball nets but no volleyballs, pool cues but no tables,
decks of cards, chewing gum, battery-powered flashlights without the right
kind of batteries, and many other surprises which made those early days feel
like Christmas-in-a-foster-home for the crew, who from the start referred to
themselves, only half-jokingly, as Loonies.
They worked hard in those early days. Quarters were cramped in the rockets
so they were in a hurry to build Moon Bases One and Two. In the end, those
buildings resembled cube farms more than anything else, with each resident
allotted an eight by twelve gray area to decorate in their own idiosyncratic
way. The cubes had ten foot walls but no ceilings, gaps but no doors, and were
laid out in four-by-three grids, twelve per base. Each base also had a large,
open common area so that the cubicle region occupied about a third of the
total space. The rest was filled with tables hosting lab equipment, kitchen-type
gadgets and setups, two conference rooms apiece for more private
communications, and large common seating areas for general meetings and
entertainment. The buildings themselves were basically metal boxes all
around with heavy doors and flat roofs dotted by occasional skylights.
They were not much to look at, but after the first, hectic few months, there
was no one to look. There had been twenty-four hour video coverage of the
camp, and for a time an audience on Earth that was interested in the goings-
on up there - the busy construction, the novelty of the thing - but as they got to
know the personalities of the crew, and as the crew settled in to a life of
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